We asked our Ocean Heroes finalists: If you were elected President, what would be the first thing on your agenda?
They gave us some pretty great answers, check them out below, and donâ€™t forget to vote for your favorite finalist! Who knows, maybe one of our finalists will be running for President themselves someday.
Michele Hunter Stop the killing of all marine mammals throughout the entire world.
Hardy Jones Expose levels of pollution.
Kristofor Lofgren I would change our energy policy, because reducing carbon and oil and gas spills, creates a healthier and less acidic ocean.
Dave Rauschkolb End offshore oil drilling.
Rick Steiner An emergency effort in clean, sustainable energy, and energy conservation, to stop climate change and its devastating impacts on marine ecosystems.
Don Voss Appoint Sylvia Earle Secretary of World's Oceans and give her free reins to establish regulations as needed.
Sara Brenes Ban all shark finning in US, no shark products to be sold, imported or exported, create an ocean world conservation summit to try and make a plan to end shark finning, whaling and overfishing and try to create peaceful and safe ocean pact.
The Calvineers Reinforce the Endangered Species Act, especially the Marine Mammal Act so that NOAA would be better funded and more efficient at protecting marine mammals from human made dangers.
Sam Harris No killing sharks on this earth ever!!!!
James Hemphill Ban the chemical BPA from plastics to reduce the human input of toxins in the ocean.
Teakahla WhiteCloud I would ban all long-line fishing and trawler fishing and make sure all ocean laws are strictly enforced and make all reef systems National Parks.
Only a few more days of voting are left, tell us your favorite finalists today at oceana.org/heroes!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Maria Jose Cortex, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Kip Evans Photography, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Enrique Talledo.
To be an Ocean Hero, you have to have a strong commitment to your workâ€”so what keeps our finalists going when the going gets tough?
The voting is open for our 2012 Ocean Heroes Awards, but if you're having a hard time deciding who your favorite finalist is, here's a chance to get to know them better.
Each of our finalists has their own unique story about just what it is that motivates them to protect the worldâ€™s oceans. Hereâ€™s what they told us keeps them working hard to achieve their goals:
Michele Hunter Sometimes it's witnessing the small steps a critical patient will take because of the dutiful care and treatment we provide to our patients. Knowing that all those hours of care made a difference. Being able to stand on the beach with your team and release an animal that you helped save is motivation enough!
Hardy Jones Frankly, what motivates me is the undeniable need for reform of the way we view and deal with the oceans. There is real danger of a collapse of the ocean ecosystem. Other motivation comes from direct contact with the magnificence of the ocean realm. Finally, I am motivated by the knowledge that I can make a difference if I put out the energy and intention to accomplish important goals.
Kristofor Lofgren I want to live in a healthy and beautiful world. I also want to do all I can to share that wonderful world with others. I am motived each and every day to help make the world a better place for everyone I never meet, simply because it is the right thing to do. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and share the same earth. I choose each day to bring passion to simple, good work...and that is enough.
Dave Rauschkolb The unapologetic grip the dirty fuel and nuclear industries have on our world, and seeing that clean energy and renewables are beginning to break that grip.
Rick Steiner I'm motivated by knowing the desperate state of the oceans, seeing my favorite seas and coasts lost to human ignorance and greed, and facilitating the successes I've been involved with. There is simply no other option but to ramp up the science-based advocacy for ocean protection -- and that is a powerful motivator. It is urgent to act, not just talk about the problem. Knowing we can, and must, succeed.
Don Voss I am motivated by the thousands of kids I talk to each year who are interested and react to this project. I help at least 25 new divers a year get started and into this sport and debris collection. I am motivated by the progress in removal and changes in water quality we are finding just this year. I am motivated when others notice what we do and want to participate and/or learn more. I am motivated when we continue to release thousands of snagged and trapped aquatic animals. I am spiritually motivated when I visit our Turtle rescue hospital and visit the critters we have sent there. Turtles are awesome and send me home an activist.
Sara Brenes I am so passionate about my belief and my drive to make a difference. I feel like I breathe, eat, sleep, and dream about sharks and our oceans. I think it is just hard wired in to me to not give up and to fight and fight and fight and reach another person and another person and another one. Just don't stop!
The Calvineers The North Atlantic right whale is the most endangered large whale in the world. Their population has grown little in the last thirty years (from about 300 to about 450), way below the estimated 2-3,000 needed for recovery. Until the whales recover, the Calvineers will keep up their work of educating the public.
Sam Harris I do it for the sharks. I love them.
James Hemphill My love of the ocean keeps me going. This is a problem that will not go away. As long as there is a large human population, there will be conflicts with the environment that need solutions. I want to be a part of those solutions. I have a stubborn determination to see cleaner oceans. This is where I play, swim, surf, fish, and kayak. I want my children to experience the same beautiful environment that I have.
Teakahla WhiteCloud Knowing that I am saving hatchlings so that the ocean will continue to live so that I will have a future to live.
Donâ€™t forget to visit oceana.org/heroes and vote for your favorite adult and junior finalists. Thereâ€™s less than a week until the voting period is over!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Courtesy Hardy Jones, Oceana/Dustin Cranor, zeroXTE.com, Oceana/Carlos Minguell, Courtesy James Hemphill, Oceana/Eduardo Sorenson, Courtesy Sara Brenes, NOAA, Courtesy Michele Hunter, Courtesy Kristofor Lofgren, Flickr/Nemoâ€™s Great Uncle (middle).
Offshore wind development got a huge boost last week when the Department of Energy announced that it would provide $180 million in funding to support four planned offshore wind farms off the U.S. Atlantic coast.
To get the ball rolling, $20 million of this funding is being released in 2012, which is great news for offshore wind development at a time when Congress has been floundering on clean energy.
These funds will be used to support innovative strategies that, in the long-term, will help cut the costs of developing offshore wind. The Department of Energyâ€™s support for offshore wind comes at a time of strong public support for offshore wind in coastal states, such as in New Jersey, where it has a 77% approval rating among shore residents.
The Department of Energy has been helping to streamline the permitting process through a process called â€śSmart from the Startâ€ť, which helps promote responsible development of offshore wind in accordance with environmental factors as well as recreational and commercial use of ocean resources.
Oceana has been highly engaged throughout this process as an environmental stakeholder to make sure offshore wind is developed both efficiently and responsibly in order to gain the clean energy benefits of offshore wind in a way that protects marine wildlife.
Oceana is an event partner for the American Wind Energy Associationâ€™s (AWEA) Offshore Wind Conference in Baltimore, MD next week, October 11-13.
Iâ€™ll be at the conference representing Oceana, and Iâ€™ll be speaking on a panel about stakeholder engagement, which will focus on how best to engage and educate key stakeholders in the offshore wind development process.
Why is Oceana such a strong advocate for offshore wind, anyway? Here are a few big reasons:
- Because we have seen the damage that drilling for and burning fossil fuels can do to the health of the oceans and marine life, and we must find a better way to satisfy our energy needs.
- Because windmills harness a clean and infinite source of energy, while eliminating the risk of deadly oil spills and creating three times as many jobs as the oil industry.
- Because we believe that the environmentally safe and responsible development of offshore wind is one of the best chances we have as a country to end our addiction to fossil fuels and to finally stop the dangerous practice of oil and gas drilling in our oceans.
- Because we believe that, if sited correctly, offshore wind could be the ocean-based part of the solution to climate change and its "evil twin," ocean acidification.
- Because Oceana is in a unique position as both a stakeholder in the process and an advocate for offshore wind to the stakeholders/decision-makers in Congress, where we engage and educate congressional staff on the benefits of offshore wind. We collaborate with other environmental organizations and the offshore wind industry to advocate for legislative policies that help promote the development of offshore wind.
At last yearâ€™s conference, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the first U.S. lease for offshore wind development, and since then, he and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu unveiled a National Offshore Wind Strategy. The plan includes the deployment of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030, and Salazar and Chu announced $50.5 million in funding opportunities for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment.
In other words, itâ€™s an exciting time in the world of offshore wind â€“ and weâ€™re thrilled to be a part of the action.
You can help, too! Tell your senators to replace dirty oil drills with clean windmills.
Nancy Sopko is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.
One year ago today, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 rig workers and triggering the largest accidental oil spill in history.
When all was said and done in July, it had spewed more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf, threatening sea turtles, whale sharks, spawning bluefin tuna and countless other species of fish and marine life.
Lewis Pugh is a British environmentalist, maritime lawyer and Oceana ally. He was the first person to complete a long distance swim in every ocean, and is probably best known for two impressive feats: his 2007 swim across the North Pole to highlight the melting of Arctic sea ice, and a swim across a glacial lake in the Himalayas 2010 to draw attention to the regionâ€™s melting glaciers.
Last week Pugh spoke in Cape Town, South Africa against Shellâ€™s proposed fracking in the country. Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting natural gas by pumping chemicals, sand, and water underground to break apart rock and release gas. (For more on the controversial practice of hydrofracking see Grist and the New York Times.)
While Oceana doesnâ€™t have a campaign directly dealing with the practice of hydrofracking, we are certainly aligned with Pugh on his bottom line: itâ€™s time to transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. Hereâ€™s a clip of Pughâ€™s powerful speech:
Here in the U.S., we need your help to stop dirty energy, too. Please speak up by March 30 (tomorrow!) to prevent new offshore drilling for the next five years.
Jackie Savitz is Oceana's Senior Campaign Director for Pollution Programs. This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.
In the 7,000-word State of the Union, President Obama seemed to leave out two letters that loomed large in 2010. "B" and "P" -- the initials of the company that destroyed the lives and livelihoods of Gulf of Mexico residents and did immeasurable destruction to Gulf ecosystems.
But BP was there in spirit. Its campaign contributions helped get many members of Congress and Senators elected, it was implicated in the oil industry effort to paper Washington, D.C. metro stations with ads, and just the day before, the halls of Congress were filled with lobbyists and others clamoring for seats at the Oil Spill Commission hearings.
And while the President didn't say those two letters, BP was implicated in his statement that we need to get 80% of our energy from clean sources by 2035. Because who would be better than BP, a company tarred and feathered and now in need of a clean break, to help us build our clean energy portfolio so it can provide 80% of our electricity by 2035?
Last night in his State of the Union address President Obama said, "instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's." Now it's time for Congress to heed that call and do its part.
Big Oil rakes in obscene profits each year as a result of billions in taxpayer subsidies. It's time to stop this.
President Obama's stated goal is for 80% of America's electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035. Our oceans can be part of the solution.
A recent Oceana report showed that offshore wind can provide domestic energy that is cleaner and more sustainable than offshore drilling, while creating permanent jobs and strengthening our economy. The report shows that offshore wind developments off the U.S. Atlantic coastline could create between 133,000 and 212,000 jobs per year right here in the United States. That's more than three times the jobs estimated to be created by expanding offshore oil and gas.
Today is Blog Action Day, and this yearâ€™s theme couldnâ€™t be more relevant to us and all you fantastic ocean activists: water.
Water is also an especially poignant theme given the timing. Next Wednesday is the six-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill dominated the news -- and this blog -- for several months, and nobodyâ€™s sure what the long-term effects will be on gulf ecosystems.
And yet, just a few days ago, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling several weeks earlier than planned, and several months before the release of studies about the effects of the oil spill on the gulf.
As Oceanaâ€™s pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz said of the decision, â€śThis is an incredibly disconcerting and unjustified move, that could open the door for the next great oil disaster. Oil spills are common. The question is not whether there will be another spill but when.â€ť
But not all the news the past few months has been negative. Yes, the gulf has endured the worst environmental crisis in our nationâ€™s history, but there are signs of hope. Momentum on offshore wind power is building, for one thing.
The answer is blowing in the wind, and we have a new report to prove it.
Oceanaâ€™s new report, Untapped Wealth, is a comprehensive analysis that shows how focusing our investments on clean energy like offshore wind would be cost-effective, more beneficial to job creation, and better for the environment and ocean in a variety of ways than offshore oil and gas exploration and development.
Here are a few of the key findings from the new report:
*Delaware, Massachusetts and North Carolina could generate enough electricity from offshore wind to equal current electricity generation, entirely eliminating the need for fossil fuel based electric generation.
* East Coast states such as New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina could supply 92%, 83% and 64% of their current electricity generation with offshore wind, respectively.